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Table 2 Physical activity: summary of themes from new parent and preschool parent focus groups with illustrative quotes

From: Childrens physical activity and screen time: qualitative comparison of views of parents of infants and preschool children

Theme New parent groups Preschool parent groups
  N* Example quotations** N* Example quotations**
General impressions and expectations    
Positive impressions and expectations regarding child becoming physically active 7 ″We went to the botanical gardens on Monday. If Id done that with friends wed probably take a couple of bottles of wine … But when you take a child, I guess you take balls and cricket bats instead.″ [NP 8] 1 ″We used to go shopping; now we go to the park.″ [PP 6]
   ″Its fun…they just love it, and they laugh and they enjoy that.″ [NP 3]   
   ″With activity I would like her to go in as much as possible for social activities, rather than just being a loner. I think social activities provide social skills that are… a key precursor to academic success.″[NP 6]   
   ″… all games in one way or another are learning; they have to learn rules, learn you can lose, you can win, you learn in a lot of respects whatever the game is.″ [NP 1]   
   ″It makes me think about a bit more of a routine for us… you sit down and eat and then you go and play. So trying to introduce more structure to start with.″ [NP 2]   
   ″Try and get your husband to have a bit of playtime and activity time, share it up a bit.″ [NP 2]   
   ″Oh its good [physical activity]. It makes them sleep.″ [NP 4]   
   ″It makes them healthy.″ [NP 2]   
Negative impressions and expectations regarding child becoming physically active 4 ″It looks exhausting sometimes when you see others. Like a girlfriends got a one year old and we go out to lunch and it is exhausting because she is running after her kid and sitting down or standing up or occupied all the time. So you think it is a twenty four hour job now, but it is more when they start running around.″ [NP 2] 1 ″You worry theyve been at kinder all day, theyve done one activity, now theyve come home. Have they had enough or should they be off doing something else? Should I enrol them in so many different things? So theres that dilemma.″ [PP 7]
   ″Sometimes I dont feel like shes getting enough stimulation… she wants to run around the house and garden rather than sitting and drawing.″ [NP 7]   ″You cant be somewhere at four oclock and somewhere at four-o-five. Its just too hard. And at some point theyve got to do their homework and kids need to be able to relax.″ [PP 7]
   ″I dont want him to be a complete sports head. I want him to have not just physical time but also times to be creative.″ [NP 5]   
   ″I am thinking of my house and her just getting into all the floorboards and stuff.. I rang a friend to come over and help me spray my house because its just [Im concerned about] the cleanliness issue.″ [NP 2]   
   ″You just have to get used to the fact that they are going to injure themselves.″[NP 7]   
Influences on children s physical activity     
Physical activity is innate in children 3 ″I think it [physical activity] will come naturally for her.″ [NP 1] 2 ″Some of these kids have been here for 3 hours and theyre running from the swing to the slide to this to that. At this age they just run naturally from one thing to another.″ [PP 7]
   ″…but him being a boy and boys generally being really into sports…boys normally want to do football and basketball …″ [NP 5]   ″[child 1] likes the computer and I do that with him, and he likes TV and he is much more of an inside kid. [child 2] is very different, she wants to be outside.″ [PP 8]
Family and parent activity levels influence child activity levels 4 ″I just think its also influenced by the family and I know my husband grew up in a very sporty family, all boys, and it was wonderful that we were having a boy. It will just be expected of him to be an active person.″ [NP 6] 3 ″Well my husbands from a very sporting family so hes very interested in it. He likes to watch sport on tele[vision] and we go and watch people doing sport and that sort of makes the kids interested in doing it [sport] as well.″ [PP 9]
   ″Some kids are using computers and are playing Playstation all day where as some families are sport focused all the time.″ [NP 1]   ″We just got a trailer bike. So now the four of us can go riding all together. For us thats what we do as a family.″ [PP 8]
Strategies for encouraging child physical activity 5   6  
Providing a supportive environment 3 ″Even having a family pet means that they have the activity; walking the dog or playing with the dog.″ [NP 3] 5 ″Hes got the bike, hes got the trampoline, hes got swings, theres everything there for him – scooters, rollerblades, its all there.″[PP 2]
   ″We do a lot of trips away, and we tent it [camp] every year. So Im really looking forward to showing [infant] the coast and taking him there and taking him to the pool, and theyve got active stuff for the kids to do.″ [NP 7]   ″My son loves TV and we just get to a point where we have turn it off and say, Lets get dressed and go outside for a little while. You can watch it again later on. And as soon as its off they forget about it [television]″. [PP 6]
Providing supervision and companionship 2 ″These playgroups are a good way to start [with active play] because we are all first mothers and theres no other babies within the family, so its great for them to socialise.″ [NP 6] 6 ″I find that if the neighbours kids are home, they will leave it [the television] and run next door and play over there….″ [PP 5]
     ″My husband and I walk while the two kids have their bikes and theyll just go off at a bit of a distance.″[PP 5]
     ″If youre going to do that [say they have to go outside and be active] you have to engage yourself. Sometimes theyre quite happy to go off but youve still got to be there.″ [PP 8]
Enrolling child in organised physical activities 3 ″Getting them at an early age involved in something thats once a week, youd go and do this thing thats physical and you keep fit.″ [NP 5] 0  
   ″Ive started at Gymbaroo, which is one day a week. I just see it as a bit of balance.″[NP 7]   
Parental modelling and encouragement 3 ″My husbands a sports nut and he cant wait to get her out there. And me, I love swimming, so I cant wait to get her down to the pool.″ [NP 8] 1 ″Sometimes you might have to initiate things like going to the park.″ [PP 9]
   ″At the moment I walk most places. That is something I would like him to be able to do as well.″ [NP 6]   
Teach fundamental movement and sports skills 0   3 ″With my girls I was really keen to do things like swimming lessons from an early age… its a real advantage in school if they can do something theyve sort of accomplished. Like if they get to school and they can already swim.″ [PP 9]
     ″We have to go out of our way to teach them sports because we have found if you dont … you get to a certain age where they just wont do it… and they wont play because they are the only ones who dont know how to … and that kind of limits what sporting activity they do.″ [PP 5]
     ″Im trying to teach them activities that we used to do as children… hopscotch …and elastics.″ [PP 2]
Encouraging outdoor play/use of outdoor facilities 2 ″Its making sure hes outside and, if you need to go to the shops, go there, do what you have to do and get home and get him outside again.″ [NP 7] 2 ″We take them to the beach swimming quite regularly…if its cold we still go, they still have fun with the sand.″ [PP 1]
   ″I think its pretty important that they have lots of outside time.″ [NP 8]   
Barriers to child physical activity 7   6  
Safety 5 ″With paedophilia and people perving at your child and taking photos and abducting them in the street, or a car might hit them or anything. Like its not safe even having your child on your own front lawn unsupervised; you dont know whos lurking around.″ [NP 3] 2 ″They [bike ride]… around the block basically. Now I live on a lane, and I am that scared of what can happen, aside from injuries. So I … watch them. But I am so scared to let them go anywhere else.″[PP 2]
   ″I live across the road from the park and I think about that now. Its a busy road. Would I ever let her cross?″ [NP 6]   ″In daylight saving we used to ride our bike around the street at night. Our parents were just inside. See you wouldnt let your children do any of these things.″ [PP 9]
   ″Hes not allowed to play near a creek. Theres places he wont be able to go.″ [NP 7]   
Environment 4 ″I walked to school every day by myself from a very young age. And these days… I live in a street with a school in it and no one walks past my fence in the morning or the afternoon. There is not one kid who walks to school even with their parents.″ [NP 6] 1 ″Now everythings a lot more structured. Like youve got to enrol them in this, that and the other. Whereas we did a lot more just local…friends and out in the street, bikes and skateboards, and all that sort of stuff.″ [PP 7]
   ″With the influence of todays culture. Just look at all the electronic gadgets and computers and play stations and all of that. Back in our day I remember you were outside on your bike, playing hopscotch, going to the park by yourself. All of that is slowly sort of gone.″[NP 6]   
   ″I know societys changing. When we were young kids were out in the street all day everyday …but now you just dont see that.″ [NP 3]   
   ″Living arrangements [influence physical activity] as well. We dont have a huge backyard and theyre things that Im looking for now.″ [NP 5]   
Time & planning 1 ″With both parents back at work and the childs in childcare, theres such a limited amount of time as a family. Finding regular time for any sort of team sport and playing, I think thats really hard.″ [NP 8] 4 ″Everythings time consuming. I find myself clock watching all the time because I have a very structured routine with them.″[PP 1]
     ″Its scheduling it [physical activity]. Its making sure that it fits in with everything else, because like I said theyve got homework every night, so its all happening.″ [PP 2]
     ″Well probably start that [organised sport] in the New Year. Anywhere I can take… two at the same time. Its just better value for your time you know, if [child 1] and [child 2] can both do a lesson. Like we do swimming. They have back to back lessons.″ [PP 6]
  1. *N refers to number of groups where theme was discussed (out of a total of 8 new parent and 8 preschool parent groups).
  2. **Quotations are referred to with the notation NP for new parent groups and PP for preschool parent groups, followed by the sequential group number.
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